In 2008, a Pew Internet Research study found that two-thirds of American teenagers regularly used Internet slang and emoticons in their writing for school. In some ways, this isn't very surprising - a large portion of teenage writing is done via social media. But while Internet slang, text-speak, and writing shortcuts may be acceptable for chatting with a friend or sending off a quick email to your mom, its presence in academic writing can quickly earn you a bad grade for what is ostensibly sloppy work.
Academic papers (including personal essays) are supposed to reflect critical thinking, evaluation of evidence, and an ability to articulate your thoughts in a cohesive manner. So, before you go trying to make your teacher LOL, consider finding an alternative to the following Web terms:
1. Text-speak and acronyms
With just a quick skim through any social media feed or comments section, you will likely find one of a seemingly endless and evolving list of Internet slang in the form of acronyms. These are examples of text-speak (i.e. IMHO), and they have no place in your academic essays. The use of these acronyms looks sloppy and unprofessional, which is not what you should be going for do my writing and your academic essay.
One of the keys to good writing is to write for your audience. If you're writing a post for your friend on a social media site, text-speak is fine because he or she will understand it and likely have no rigorous academic standards for your writing. Your essays, on the other hand, are for your teacher, who may or may not know what these acronyms mean and who is also responsible for critiquing your work using high academic standards.
Like abbreviations and text-speak, it is not uncommon to find shortcuts like "U" (you), "R" (are), or "4" (for) used in place of the actual word. Just like text-speak and Internet acronyms, this makes you look uninformed. Moreover, using shortcuts like these suggests to your teachers and professors that you don't care very much about what you're submitting. To your teacher or professor, the use of these abbreviations says that you couldn't be bothered to spell the entire word.
3. Colloquial language
When it comes to conversational English, we tend to use a number of words, like "literally," "totally," and "awesome," improperly or with no regard for their actual definition. The colloquial use of these words in conversations with friends or in a blog is acceptable, but when it comes to essays, you'll want to steer clear. Informally, the word "awesome" means that something was really good or enjoyable, which is quite different from its formal definition, which refers to something being awe-inspiring.
4. Ellipsis (...)
In casual and informal writing, an ellipsis is often used to indicate an unfinished thought trailing off or a person taking a long pause before speaking again. In formal writing, however, an ellipsis is used to indicate that a certain amount of text has been omitted from a quotation. Therefore, unless you're using a quote and taking out a portion of it for some reason, don't use this punctuation mark in your essays.
5. Hashtag (#)
Very often, you will see a post on social media that contains a hashtag, like #thispostisawesome. On the Internet, hashtags are used to identify or track certain keywords or topics. In more recent years, the term has worked its way into the popular vernacular. Again, while this may be fine for casual conversation, using hashtags in an essay is not only nonsensical, but it is an action not everyone will recognize.